Crucifixion nails found in Israel? Probably not.

Crucifixions, nail, Roman, Roman nailThere’s been a shocking archaeological discovery in Israel. Nails from the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ have been found!

Well, no, probably not.

The claim comes from Israeli Canadian documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, the Washington Post reports. Jacobovici has done several documentaries on Christian subjects and came across an archaeological report from 1990 mentioning the discovery of nails in the tomb of a man named Caiaphas. For those who know their Bible, this is the same name as the Jewish high priest who plotted to arrest Jesus and then gave him to the Romans. The name is right, the date of the tomb is right, so the nails must be those from the Crucifixion, right?

The Post quotes Jacobovici as saying, “There’s a general scholarly consensus that the tomb where the nails were found likely belonged to Caiaphas. Nails at that time were a dime a dozen, but finding one in a tomb is exceedingly rare.”

Actually neither of these statements is true. The Post quotes an Israeli archaeologist as saying that the inscriptions in the tomb aren’t clear as to the occupant’s identity, and I myself have seen Roman nails turn up in tombs. They were pretty common objects, after all.

The timing of this announcement just before Easter and just before Jacobovici’s next documentary comes out (titled “Nails of the Cross” to air Wednesday on the History Channel), adds to the suspicion that Jacobovici is fooling either himself or us.

There’s also the question of why a Jewish high priest would take the nails of someone who he thought was a false prophet to the grave with him, or even how he got them in the first place since it was Jesus’ family and followers who removed Jesus from the Cross.

In the view of this former archaeologist, this story is more of the usual sensationalism masking as science that fills so much of the media. A bit like the spurious discovery of Caligula’s tomb.

Never fear. There are plenty are saints’ relics in Rome, including enough nails for a dozen Crucifixions. Gadling’s own David Farley has even written a book about the Holy Foreskin, which you can also visit in Italy. Actually there’s more than one relic claiming to be the Holy Foreskin, but that’s another story. . .

[Image of Roman nails courtesy user Takkk via Wikimedia Commons. These are not the same nails that came from the tomb mentioned in this article.]

No Wrong Turns: Easter in Mexico….No Mini Eggs Here

You won’t find any pastel colored eggs, chocolates or fuzzy white rabbits in Mexico during Easter. In fact, there isn’t a speck of the materialistic, Cadbury-bunny-laced Easter we have come to know and love at home. And, believe me, I looked for those addictive Mini Eggs everywhere.

Mexicans are predominantly Catholic and Holy Week, or “Semana Santa” as it is known here, is the most important religious holiday of the year. Kids get the week before and after Easter Sunday off and it is a time for family and church. These two weeks off are equivalent to our Spring Break so travelers can expect beaches and hotels to be crowded…make your reservations early.

Tom and I caught a little bit of the celebration on Good Friday (Viernes Santo). The devout congregate in groups all over the city, each outfitted with a large cross. These groups walk throughout the neighborhoods towards the church, stopping at homes to perform prayers and blessings. Eventually all the groups meet at the church for the service. In other parts of the country, the crucifixion is reenacted and passion plays are performed. One of the biggest celebrations is held in Iztapalapa, just south of Mexico City.

“Sabado de Gloria”, Holy Saturday, tells the story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. Papier mache Judases are created and then burned or destroyed as part of the ceremony. The service we attended was not so inclined and instead included readings by from both the Mexican and English community. People just kept piling in and eventually all the seats were taken leaving latecomers standing in the aisles. Women were hanging onto restless children, statues of the Virgen de Guadalupe were clutched tightly in hand, thousands of candles were lit and re-lit, bottles of water were raised for blessing and children, trussed up in their best clothes, were baptized and welcomed as members to the Catholic church. The evening ended with a shower of bright fireworks that could be seen from all over town.

Two words of advice on attending a church service:

Many Mexicans turn up casually dressed, but it is wise to be respectful and dress appropriately. Women should have their shoulders covered and men should wear a nice shirt and pants.

It is worth bringing your own candle so you can participate in the service. A ton of candles are lit during this event…it is like one big bonfire waiting to happen, so make sure you know where the closest exit is or sit near someone with a big bottle of water.

On Easter Sunday, Domingo de Pascua, Mexicans attend Mass and then spend the rest of the day enjoying the company of family and friends, sadly for me, it is not filled with bunny trails or chocolates either, sigh.
Anyone want to send some Mini Eggs my way?

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“No Wrong Turns” chronicles Kelsey and her husband’s road trip — in real time — from Canada to the southern tip of South America in their trusty red VW Golf named Marlin.